SWITZERLAND - Ecofin, one of Switzerland’s largest investment consultants, has brought in a pair of new senior advisers and, for the first time, has opened itself up to private banking clients.

The first of the two advisers is Gabriella Giraudi, who took over chief responsibility for hedge fund investments on January 1. Prior to the appointment, Giraudi, 38, had worked at the Swiss private bank Julius Bär and more recently, the Swiss fund company SGK.

The second of the two is 41-year-old Sonja Schneider, who joined on February 1. While Schneider’s main responsibility is real estate investments, she also is in charge of clients from the private banking sector – a new business for Ecofin. Schneider previously worked for the accounting firm KPMG.

The two advisers replace Peter Rice and Paola Prioni, who both left Ecofin last autumn.

The departures of Rice and Priori, along with Georg Wessling, ended a year of considerable staff turnover at Ecofin. In February 2004, Andreas Reichlin stepped down as managing director to join rival Zurich consultant PPC Metrics.

However, Benno Halter, senior consultant at Ecofin, stressed that the turnover had no impact on Ecofin’s business with its clients, almost all of which are Swiss pension funds. “The only effect it had was that while we searched for replacements, we had to work a lot more,” Halter said.

Ecofin’s largest client among Swiss pension funds is that for the city of Zurich, which accounts for roughly half of the €12bn in assets entrusted to it. Halter said that beyond the Swiss pension funds, Ecofin gave investment advice to insurers and foreign pension funds operating in Switzerland.